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On Friday 26 November, two Royal School girls visited the School’s oldest Old Girl – Vivienne Rolfe – on the occasion of her 103rd birthday.
The girls asked Vivienne a number of questions about life as a school girl in the 1920s and they were amazed to hear some of Vivienne’s answers. Girls were obliged to spend 10 minutes per night standing in a line, brushing the hair of the girl in front of them before going to bed, for example!
Bed was a recurring theme during our visit because Vivienne’s headmistress considered rest to be a necessity for growing girls. As a result, all pupils went to bed for half an hour after lunch! They would lie on top of their beds, reading or sewing, before putting their uniform back on and returning to afternoon lessons. If a boarder was naughty, they were sometimes sent to bed for the whole weekend – without books or entertainment – to reflect on their bad behaviour.
Vivienne remembers enjoying school, particularly handwriting and history. She also recalls being taught cookery and housekeeping: girls in the 1920s learnt how to wash, iron and starch clothes as part of their education. The girls at The Royal School in 2010 follow a rather different curriculum – designed to meet the needs of young women entering the world of work in the 21st century – but enjoy their education as much as Vivienne enjoyed hers.
Pictured above are Vivienne, Pelagia and Rebecca at the end of their visit.